Blogs Around The World

Blogs Around The World

  • Hope

    Hope is desire and expectation. Hope is that which you expect and that you are sure will satisfy your deepest desires. Both in our world and in scripture we encounter two types of hope: false hope and true hope. Lamentations 3 presents us with both: False hope—vs. 18 “So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” And true hope—vs. 21, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love..."

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  • Significance

    One of the things I was struck by as we drove and hiked and walked in this remote area, was the vastness of God’s creation. In this northern wilderness, my husband and I were not even dots on a map. Its easy to feel pretty insignificant in a place like that. And then at night the sky filled with stars so bright and close and numerous, I could not help but proclaim in a way similar to the psalmist, ‘who am I that you are mindful of me?’...

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  • Making Sure Justice Works

    As I sit here writing this, my province is once again home to people banging pots trying to intimidate the government to bow to one group of citizens over the province as a whole. Now to be honest, it's not a clear cut issue as the government has placed itself in this position of having to go back on work contracts signed in the past.

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  • You Will Laugh

    I wish Mr. Williams were still alive for all kinds of human and Christian reasons. But I am surely glad he came our way. He was natively funny and he made us laugh, and that is a gift I think we sometimes undervalue.  Even some comedians downplay their role in the grander scheme of things, acknowledging that what they do is not exactly akin to cancer research, the work of heart surgeons, or relief workers in disaster zones.  Still, laughter is a gift and even the Bible--and Jesus himself--are funnier than most Christians tend to realize or acknowledge...

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  • Begging Bread

    “Piety gave birth to prosperity,” Cotton Mather once wrote (or words similar to those), “and the child devoured the mother.”  But then, Cotton Mather really believed that his beloved Puritan theocracy got shipwrecked by the diminished righteousness of the children of New England’s “visible saints.”  The new-found wealth of the second and third generations of the Puritans simply destroyed orthodoxy and faith itself. He may have been right, of course, but then, as President Bill Clinton might say, a whole lot depends on what one means by righteousness...

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  • Be Thou Our Vision

    This past week marked the very first official meeting for Resurrection Life Church. I told the group that I was a little nervous, so I did what I always do when I am nervous leading a group. I talk. Fortunately the group was made up of gracious listeners, and in the end it was important to talk through the worship vision of Resurrection Life Church... 

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  • Taking It All For Granted

    I was walking around our property the other day thinking, “Lord, what a blessing. What a gift. Thank you.” Having the family we do. Living where we do. Sharing the church community we do. All just awesome.
    And then over the last couple of days I began to also wonder, “How often do I take this for granted? Or behave as if I somehow deserve it, or earned it, or own it?” When our vacation began a friend of mine suddenly died – heart attack. It reminded me how thin the thread is upon which our lives hang. And how every moment we have, every single one, is sheer gift...

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  • What's in a Name?

    It looks like a list. It reads like a list. At the end of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul sends a personal greeting of affirmation and gratitude to 27 separately named co-laborers. Yes, the letter to the Romans is filled with memorable verses and overarching themes that were foundational to the Reformation and is still foundational to framing the theology of the church. But it also instructs us about the importance of names. Paul sends personal greetings such as: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila...” “Greet my dear friend Epenetus..." “Greet Rufus..." What’s in a name?...

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  • "Though He Stumble"

    Today, suicides are not refused burial in any local cemeteries that I know of, and, for that, all of us should be thankful. I can not sympathize a whit with those who kept Mr. Shimerda’s body out of proper burial, but when I read a verse like this—from David—I can at least understand something of their fear, for fear is what it was, I’m sure. To take one’s own life is to reject the eternal truth of what David says: “though he stumble, he will not fall..."

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  • Where Are We, When God Grieves? Part I

    ‘Action T4’ was the code name given in the late 1930’s to the racial cleansing that Hitler began on his own people. By the beauty of the Tiergarten, the first acts of compulsory sterilizations and euthanasia were incubated, marking the beginning of what would become the foundation for the ‘Final Solution.’ The Berliner Philharmonic side by side with ‘Action T4’ represent two tales, two views, one ‘from above’; the other ‘from below’. The scene ‘from below’- ‘Action T4’ remained as we exited the Philharmonic to our train.

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  • Who Told You That We are Poor?

    Last Saturday I took a ride through a “low-income,” informally-settled neighborhood called Mtandile that is near to our house. Many foreigners avoid this area of town because it has a reputation for harboring thieves and other unsavory sorts. For me, it is a place that is full of life and vitality: a mass of humanity living in close quarters. I found the sounds and the smells of people surviving and thriving to be comforting rather than threatening...

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  • More Zombies in the Bible?

    A number of people insist that there’s going to be a zombie apocalypse or that there really could be something in the Bible about it. Let me be clear: Zombies aren’t real and the Bible says nothing about there being zombies. And then I begin looking at Ezekiel 37:1-14. Ah, crud. Zombies again? It’s the classic passage of the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel is a prophet preaching to the Israelites who had been taken into exile from their land and forced to live in Babylon. The people felt dead. The people felt alone. The people felt hopeless.

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  • The American Road Trip: A Retrospective

    Circa 1978 She: Honey, I think we were supposed to take that exit. He: Are you sure? She: Well, I’m looking at the atlas here and … boy, this is right on the edge of this page … here, I’ll look at the detail map on the next page. He: Let me see that! She: You drive! I’m navigating! He: Are you sure you’re reading that right? She: I’m telling you, it’s exit 174. I can see it right here. 2014 She: Which exit am I supposed to take? He: Look at my phone mounted on the dash. It shows you. Just follow the arrows. She: I can’t see your phone.

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  • Why University Students Should Know Vos

    Vos. Geerhardus Vos, that is. The Dutch immigrant, scholar, and Princeton Seminary professor, as well as the author of numerous works, including, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. This work is the culmination of his studies and work as a theologian. Biblical Theology is defined by Vos as “that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.” What follows are three reasons why university students should take time to read this work, and study Biblical Theology more broadly...

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  • Flying Fish

    As I was driving, I saw a teal blue beaten up minivan driving up fast behind me. I was going 5 over (okay, maybe ten) and they passed me like I was standing still. And then I saw a flying fish. What is that? As the minivan passed me by, I saw a nice little symbol on the back of the car near the license plate. It’s the universal symbol of being a follower of Jesus–the Jesus Fish...

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  • We Are N

    Please pray for the persecuted Christians of Iraq. Any persecution is important for us in the West to pay close attention to, for a number of reasons.  First, the persecution of Christians across the world is probably one of the biggest human rights issues that largely happens without protest. A Nov. 27, 2013 National Post article outlined how there have been more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than in the 1,900 years that came before...

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  • Unpacking Shame

     “The German people are dealing with their past shame. In fact the way that they are coping with it may very well be an excellent model for other nations who are still unwilling to honestly look at their past.”  REALLY? I thought to myself as Kathie and I listened to our German tour guide while on a walking tour of today’s Berlin. Is it really possible to find closure for the travesties of the Nazis? It was true. The German people with courageous honesty were unpacking their shame...

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  • The Progress Chart

    “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress." (1Ti 4:15 ESV) Imagine that! Paul is saying to Timothy that we ought to let people see our progress in holiness. Let people track our progress. Perhaps we don’t think of that too often. Sometimes we are content to stay just exactly the way that we are. Sometimes we think that to be a true Christian we need to be doing everything...

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  • History Quiz

    Ok, it's the first weekend in August and with it comes a slight tremor of forewarning that summer's going to end. The mind panics a bit, goes distracted and diffuse. So here, gentle reader, from the loose ends of my summer projects, a pop history quiz to settle you down. The first two items might surprise you; the third, alas, should not... 

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  • "You get a whole lot smarter when you die."

    This is how the publisher, New Rivers, describes Up the Hill: "Set in a small prairie town, and narrated from the grave in a voice that is humorous, elucidatory, and enlightening, these interconnected folk tales capture how the dearly departed handle being spirits in a world that continues on without them, but also with them...The result is forgiveness, redemption, and divine intervention and proof that “you get a whole lot smarter when you die.”...
     

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  • Reflections on Kenya

    In the area of Kenya where we visited, World Renew is working with the Anglican Church's development organization. The first area we visited was around Nakuru. The people we visited were the lead farmers in farmer groups, chosen by the members of their groups to pilot these techniques. They were mainly focusing on growing more and better vegetables for family consumption and for sale. So, one technique they used was to make "wet gardens." They took sacks, sewed them in a circle, and put a perforated pipe down the middle and filled the sack with soil.  You can transplant vegetables...

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  • Pain, Faith,and Doubt

    We admire faith. Someone with a strong convicting faith we begin to look up to and wish we had the clarity, vision, stalwartness, and conviction which they have. When we think of people with a strong solid faith we think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We think of Mother Theresa. We think of Billy Graham. And for those in our communities and for those in our churches, we prize and look up to, wishing we had their faith...

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  • Why I Write (and So Should You)?

    How does a person decide to write a short booklet that evolves, grows, and metastasizes into a full length book for public consumption? When I reflect on the millions of words I have typed, handwritten, and even dictated into software... that's a lot of practice. If you think about it, you probably have practiced more than you realize... if you count up all the words in the history of your life. So, here is the point... You can write. You have practiced your entire life. You have something to say. No excuses. I want to give you Bad and Good reasons to write...

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  • Four Men from Berwyn

    In Cicero, Illinois, a small, community-based Christian school, faced its own racial crisis when African-American parents from one of its supporting churches asked to have their children enrolled in what had been an all-white school in an all-white section of the city. The board agonized but finally refused, claiming that admitting the black children to what had been an all-white school would put the entire student body and the school itself...

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  • What's In A Name?

    It is a peculiar name for a ministry. Somewhat hard to remember, let alone pronounce (or, perhaps, to spell). But the question I rarely hear is: Why the name Areopagus? Why name a campus ministry after a place mentioned once in the Bible that most people don’t remember? The ministry is named Areopagus because just as Paul taught and reasoned with the philosophers in Acts 17, Areopagus seeks to engage with our modern thinkers: faculty and students at the university.

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  • Beauty Will Save The World

    "Beauty will save the world." Originating in the novel The Idiot from his main character, Prince Myshkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s quote summarized both his real-life (and fictionalized) experience of observing a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger. Let’s consider Paul’s words in light of this crazy idea. What if the beauty that Dostoevsky’s crazy Prince saw was not so much an idea, but a person? What if the same kind of beauty that brings good news...

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  • Why Theology Matters

    One of the catch-phrases these days is, “I want to know God personally, not know about God.” There is, of course, some truth in that statement. This is one reason why books like J.I. Packer’s Knowing God are such best-sellers. Theology is often seen as giving a lot of head-knowledge about God with little to offer in terms of heart-knowledge. In fact, sometimes, theology is even seen as far removed from the reality and needs...

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  • Reflections on Tanzania

    We heard about wonderful transformation in the communities that we visited. There are so many great stories that I cannot share them all. The first community told us about many ways that their self-help groups, facilitated by World Renew, have changed their lives. These groups started through the church, but include both Christians and non-Christians. And the church has been helping to meet needs in the community, even helping send the children of people who were not part of the church to school.

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  • My Life's Angst

    Two days ago I said it more concisely than I’ve ever said it before, “We (Christians) are good with knowing Christ as the mediator of our salvation, but what about knowing Christ as the mediator of creation and Christ as the mediator who now holds together that creation?” We’re good at quoting John 3:16, but not so much John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15-17...

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  • Hands on Africa

    In May, I had the privilege of being part of a special event called "Hands on Africa".  A number of churches got together to plan for it.  What was it about?  It was an opportunity for people to come celebrate and learn more about Africa - mostly Nigeria - since that is where I live. Children who came were issued passports. For each activity they completed they would get a “stamp” (sticker) in their passports. If they completed everything...

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  • Purity

    So when it comes to being a follower of Jesus, purity, or holiness is about being the person God has created you to be. It's not all about sex or sexual identity, it's about a whole bunch to things that make us who we are. Reading through Jesus' teaching, it's about cultivating grace, forgiveness, generosity, joy, self-control, kindness, a gentle tongue, compassion, and more. The goal is that when people see you, they see an image of who Jesus is...

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  • Waiting

    I am not 40+ weeks pregnant. I’m the Dad to be. But, I am waiting. My wife and I are both waiting. So, what am I to do while I await my wife’s middle of the night nudge saying, “It’s time”? Keep working. Keep encouraging. Keep preparing. Keep living as if tonight will be the night she wakes me up to go to the hospital. Keep waking up ready to do whatever work the Lord has in store for me...

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  • 50 Is the New......50

    I seem to rather frequently read phrases like the following: x (some particular age) is the new y (some particular age that is at least 10 years younger than x). These statements never fail to humor me. In some cases – 40 is the new 20 – they seem to be thinly veiled rationalizations for continuing to behave like an adolescent long after one should have left that sort of behavior behind. In other cases – 50 is the new 30 – they seem to be simply delusional...

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  • A Sin Worth Noting

    In the midst of banter between Christians, unbelievers, conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between, there is a subject that no one wants to touch. It is a subject more taboo than where you land on same-sex-marriage, whether you think abortion is murder, or which aisle you stand in at the voting booth. This topic is so taboo, it does not come up at most dinner tables...

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  • Spirituality is NOT an Adrenalin Rush

    I think there is a lot of confusion between spirituality and adrenalin rush among Christians lately. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that we stick to a stoic, cold, ritualistic style of worship or purely rationalistic spirituality. I think we need to allow for the diversity of spiritual expressions but recognize that it is just that – expressions – not spiritual norms that everyone must fit into...

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  • They Are for War

    “Too long my soul has made its home with those who lift the sword. I am for peace, but when I speak, they make for war.” (Lift Up Your Hearts Hymnal, 283) Psalm 120, the text on which the refrain is based, is rather different from most church’s standard repertoire of songs. The words, at first, feel disconcerting. Normal life, irrelevant of all the information we hear on the news, feels very far from war. And yet, the words seemed appropriate when I thought of the tensions in Ukraine and the escalating violence in the Middle East.

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  • The Left Hand of Christian Fellowship

    Since getting chikungunya fever a few months ago, Zach has pretty horrible arthritic pain in his right hand.  Every time he offers the right hand of fellowship, he cringes in pain, especially among the "importance-of-a-firm-hand-shake" crowd. So, Zach has taken up offering the "left hand of Christian fellowship." The only problem is that people don't really know what to do with this...

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  • And I Know He Watches Me

    Coming from eight cities across the United States and Canada, the 156 high-school-aged Youth Unlimited Serve participants arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With a week packed full of opportunities to serve the community. Serving people like Betty at her home, in organizations, in warehouses, in thrift stores, in soup kitchens, or even out on the streets, the volunteers discovered excitement in sharing the love of Christ...

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  • In the Mountains of Uganda

    Something really cool about people being farmers here is that a lot of the offerings and tithes at church are given as literal first-fruits from the garden.  There are frequently vegetables, eggs, and chickens given during the offering time.  The way the church turns those into money is by auctioning them off at the end of the service...

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  • Book Review--Origins

    Once upon a time--and still today--people who believe in a Christian education used evolution as a kind of shibboleth. Those of us who chose to send our kids to a Christian school could always say, "You know, if our kids went to public schools, they'd be taught that their ancestors were chimpanzees--how does that square with biblical thinking?" End of conversation. Maybe. Creation was a mainstay, a foundational principle. That God almighty created all things was a given in what most people considered a Christian worldview. Belief in evolution was belief in Godlessness. And it still is.

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  • Food Security Transforms Communities

    World Renew has supported the implementation of a food security project in two districts in Eastern Uganda with funding from the Foods Resource Bank (FRB). In that time the project, implemented in partnership with PAG Katakwi Integrated Development Organization (KIDO), has reached more than 1,800 farmers in 12 rural communities. The most vulnerable people in the community has equipped them with new skills and agricultural techniques...

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  • Deep Practice

    Through random book serendipity, I came across the 2009 book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, and I’ve been reading about “talent hotbeds.” Coyle wanted to know why a certain Russian tennis academy produces a slew of champions, or the Dominican Republic a steady stream of baseball pros, or 1590s Elizabethan England an outpouring of great poets. He discovered that the answer is neither genetic mutations, nor climate, nor...

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  • I Quit: Failure + Academia

    There is a story of Elijah in the Old Testament when he blatantly tells God that he has had enough (1 Kings 19). Surprisingly enough his declaration comes right after he’d had a surpassing victory over the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). The evil prophets had been killed, and God had shown his power in consuming Elijah’s water-soaked altar with fire. The reaction I expect is one of triumph and confidence. Instead, we are presented with an exhausted Elijah who informs God that he has had enough...

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  • Yolanda Was A Thief, But Faith Kept Us Strong

    This experience of walking alongside the survivors of Yolanda has made the words to a song by Hillsongs United even more poignant: The chorus to ‘Still’ says ‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm. Father you are King over the flood. I will be still – know you are God.’ Our staff and the congregation of the church we attend sing this with so much heart. They have lived these lyrics...

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  • God Never Says "Oops"

    As I was driving my children to school and bobbing our heads to the rocking sounds of God Rock a line from a song caught my attention: God never says oops.... because he has a sovereign plan. I almost swerved the car off the road as I marveled at this profound lyric from a children's CD. I want my kid's to know this truth. I want my church to know this truth. I want the world to know this truth...

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  • Real Change

    In many of our prayers, we ask God to change a situation or to change a problem: We pray for favorable weather and bountiful crops. We pray for restoration for a relationship that is at (or past) the breaking point. We pray for peace in places in the world where there is violence. And these are good prayers; indeed, other psalms ask for a change in the poet’s situation. But I think Psalm 51 is so powerful because it acknowledges how my biggest problems are not external but rather internal...

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  • Preaching

    I can only imagine how helpful the world wide web is to a preacher these days. With so much information so blessedly available, coming up with fresh ideas has to be easy pickins. An article in Christian Century, "Plagiarism in the Pulpit," poses a very real question with a stiff opening line:  "Thou shalt not steal." Then, it lists a number of Christian notables in the U. S. of A., who were caught red-handed, fingers on the keys, real preaching superstars too.

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  • Peacekeeping vs Peacemaking

    Peace keeping is reactive. Some one raises a stink about something, we react and try to placate them in the  name of keeping the peace. This happens in our relationships. This happens in our churches. This happens with our family and friends. We try to keep the peace. We try to keep everyone happy. If everyone is happy, then there’s peace, right?...

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  • The Danger of External Christianity

    Many people in our culture assume Christianity is about being good people, moral, and upright citizens. Or, doing religious things and rituals to appease God. While there is a call to holy living and the use of the ordinary means of grace: worship, Word, sacraments, prayer, fellowship, service, this is not what saves us, or makes us right with God. The externals are fruit; not roots. John Calvin again warns us of external Christianity...

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  • What Does Our Search for "The Beach" Really Cost?

    In a movie called, “The Beach” an American college student goes to Thailand with the intention of experiencing something radically different from his familiar life. But at what cost, this perfect getaway…Most would imagine that the only cost is money. But the reality is that there are so many more costs. In Thailand, snorkeling among colorful coral reefs has been a huge income earner but it is slowly destroying their environment and their island...

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